Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

18 March 2013

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

March 2013

Thursday 21 March LCGB North West Tony Harrison "The Dragon's Last Roar"

23 March  Llangollen Railway Diesel day Cancelled - see above.

Thursday 28 March Merseyside Railway History Group AGM:  Members Slides

April 2013

Friday 5 April   Clwyd Railway Circle   Michael Murphy 'Liverpool Overhead Railway' To finish off the season, a highly recommended speaker known for his light-hearted style of presentation. The talk will be followed by film footage of the railway in its heyday.

Monday 8 April  Wrexham Railway Society 'The Railways Of Scotland' Les Nixon

Thursday 11 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “Chester to Holyhead English Electric traction 1984 – Present day”  Steve Morris

Friday 12 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" a digital presentation by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association.

Saturday 13 April  Railway and Canal Historical Society   "The General Strike & the Railways" by Dr. Robin Smith

13 April  Llangollen Railway Real Ale train evening

Monday 15 April RCTS Chester Meeting has been moved to 29 April ( see below)

Thursday 18 April LCGB North West John Sloane 'Steam Sheds and Diesel Depots'

19-21 April Llangollen Railway  Spring Steam gala with return of the steam Railmotor 93 and newly restored Auto Trailer 92

Thursday 25 April Merseyside Railway History Group Richard Kells : Quiz and informal evening

Monday 29 April RCTS Chester Even Further Down Under: New Zealand In 2011 & 2012 By Geoff Morris.

May 2013

Thursday 9 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “The Buckley Railway”  Paul Davies

Saturday 11 May Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery

Thursday 16 May LCGB North West AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

Sunday 19 May  Llangollen Railway Teddy Bears Picnic

June 2013

1-2 June Llangollen Railway Day Out with Thomas weekend

8 June  Llangollen Railway Real Ale train evening

22-23 June Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala

Snow on the hills as 158 818 makes its way across Barmouth with train 2J02, 06:47 Machynlleth to Pwllheli, 16 March. Picture by Kate Jones.

Forthcoming diesel day at Llangollen

[Update 22 March: This event has been cancelled due to snowfalls which have made the local roads impassable.]

Political news
In the Welsh Government reshuffle announced on 14 March, Carl Sargeant, member for Alyn and Deeside is no longer Rail Minister; the new Minister with Rail responsibilities is Edwina Hart, member for Gower, who is now Minister for Economy, Science and Transport.

Let us hope this does not lead to a bias towards South Wales in railway matters.

Sports specials

Special trains for sports events have been in the news recently. A  'rugby special' for the 'Six Nations' championship ran on on Saturday 16 March, but following problems with the rolling stock at Cardiff the previous day, it started from Chester rather than Holyhead, having run empty from Cardiff early on Saturday morning. Above, the Driving Van Trailer 82306 is leading, with 67 001 propelling from the rear, as the empty train apporaches Chester. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

Unfortunately the weekend rugby fans' trip to Edinburgh run by Compass Tours, northbound on Friday 8 March and return on 11 March (see last issue) ran into problems on its return journey, reportedly due to signalling problems in Scotland, and ran over two hours late.

The innovative trip from Wrexham to Wembley on Sunday 24 March planned by Arriva Trains Wales to use the 67-hauled 'premium express' stock is reported to be fully booked; we understand that some of the passengers may be attending a football match. Timings, incuding the empty stock from and to Holyhead, can be found on the  Network Rail database, which can now be usefully accessed using the Real Time Trains website. Note that a choice of two paths has been created for the evening return train, depending on whether the football runs to 'extra time.'

Return to Carrog- report by George Jones

Saturday 16 March saw Llangollen Railway trains running through to Carrog again, following a temporary closure of the Glyndyfrdwy - Carrog section due to infrastructure problems. A diesel railcar service operated on 16 March, and on Sunday 17 March pannier tank 6430 was in charge as shown in these pictures of the 15:30 arrival (above) and run round (below).

6430 is entering the final stage of its ticket' [boiler safety certificate] and will be withdrawn shortly for the ten-yearly overhaul. Given that the loco was brought back from the brink of extinction when the basic kit of parts was assembled and rebuilt at Llangollen back in the late 1990s, it has performed well and visited many other railways in the course of its renewed existence, notably as the motive power for the recreated auto-coach train.

Those wishing to sample 'The Auto' would do well to book the dates of the Spring gala, 19-21 April when 6430 is due to operate alongside the visiting Great Western Society steam railmotor No.93 and the newly-restored autotrailer No.92 which will be matched with it.

Later (above) the light-engine move back to the shed was captured at Llangollen.

Freight views

An unusual view at Llanfairfechan on 13 March with flask train 6K41 14:58 Valley - Crewe passing. Locomotives 37 608 and 37 611. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

66 145 brings train 6M86 steel coils through Wrexham bound for Shotton steelworks at 17:25 on 15 March.

On the Tyne Valley Moorlander - with Ken Robinson

I travelled on the Compass Railtours 'Tyne Valley Moorlander' on Friday 15 March. We joined the train at Crewe where we heard that a freight train had broken down between Hereford and Shrewsbury resulting in our train being over 100 minutes. late! Eventually it got into Crewe, and the journey up to Carlisle was without incident, albeit in rather dull and wet weather. Above, the view from the train entering Hellifield South Junction amongst the semaphores.

Above, the scene after arrival at Carlisle in the rain. This was a very fast turnaround - see tail lamp already positioned on 47 237 which had been leading up till then.

Then came the most interesting part for me personally across the roof of England and into the Tyne Valley. Above, the interesting box at Hexham - I also saw the remains of the former Border Counties line junction (and the bridge abutments across the Tyne) just outside Hexham. This railway led to the well known Riccarton Junction on the Waverley Line.

47 786 Roy Castle OBE on the other end of the train, seen at Newcastle after arrival over 132 minutes late. We had a short(er) break of around 45 minutes.

Above, the empty stock (after quick servicing) is seen passing Newcastle East Junction, now behind 47237 once more, returning to the station to take us back home. Great effort was put in by Compass to enable us to keep to the schedule, and we departed Newcastle in a new 'slot' given us by Network Rail which resulted in us departing only (!) 70 minutes down at 17:30.

The sun was out by now and we passed Durham Cathedral in lovely sunshine - after York and across the Pennines it was all in the dark. We arrived at Wigan North Western 25 minutes late - the deficit being only 18 minutes. by the time we reached Crewe, where we left the train. A great trip where the tour company staff made a great effort to keep things going - there was a rumour going around at one point that we would never even reach Newcastle let alone keep to the original itinerary.

Crabs at Rhyl but not on the beach - with John Hobbs

Above, 'Crab' 2-6-0 5MT 42753 runs through the Down Slow platform at Rhyl with Empty Stock Train 3Z32 which had  passed through Prestatyn on the Down Slow so as not to clash with the 9.20 Crewe to Holyhead with 'Royal Scot' 46152, which overtook it outside Rhyl on the Down Fast, then crossed to the Down Slow platform, this train 3Z32 being held until that train was clear; all this on 31 March 1964. [The meaning of headcodes has changed since those days: empty stock trains today have codes beginning with 5.]

'Crab' 2-6-0 5MT 42727 runs into Rhyl with a Stephenson Locomotive Society excursion returning from from Llandudno Junction to Birmingham (Snow Hill) on Sunday 27 March 1966. This train had ex-Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 6697 from Snow Hill to Chester and return, while this 'Crab' powered the train on the coast. 42727 was a favourite railtour locomotive at this time and did the honours for this excursion organised by W.A. 'Cam' Camwell excursion commemorating the end of the 'Crabs' and the GWR 0-6-2Ts. In the event the 'Crabs' just lasted into 1967, at Birkenhead but the 56XX/66XX Class 0-6-2Ts based at Croes Newydd shed, Wrexham, finished in Summer 1966.

37 401 'Mary Queen of Scots' saved

Some interesting news on the Class 37/4 front is that 37 401 Mary Queen of Scots, one of the locos recently earmarked from scrapping by DRS, has instead been placed on indefinite loan to the Bo'ness and Kinneil heritage line where it as been recently stabled, a generous gesture by the company which will mean that the BKR has two 37/4s available, as 37 403 is already based there and in the process of being overhauled to main line standards.

37 401 has had a varied career, including a spell of service on North Wales passenger trains from 1998 to 2000, and a number of later appearances in 2008-9 on the aluminium train from Holyhead.  A good chance to dig some pictures out of our archives.  The top view is a classic scene captured by ian Bowland at  Crewe Platform 12 in passenger days, and above, 37 401 on the Aluminium train near Ty Croes in 2009, by Tim Rogers.

Goodbye to the Cardiff Bay bubble

Arriva Trains Wales have announced that they have given up the battle to keep in service the refurbished single-unit railcar 121 032 which has been in use on the short branch line from Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay. It has been out of service for long periods recently awaiting replacement parts; apparently its last run in service was on 8 February. It is seen above in 2009 at Queen Street...

... and at Cardiff Bay (formerly Bute Street) terminus. We understand that a Class 153 single-unit is now scheduled for the service, although other types may appear.

If you have a spare four minutes, here is the video we took from the front seat of the whole journey.

However, fans of the 'bubble cars' should not despair, as preserved Class 122 vehicle 55005 (picture above supplied by from the Battlefield Line will be the guest star at the Llangollen Railway's forthcoming DMU gala weekend on 22 and 23 June. More about this event in later updates.

Cross the line by the bridge

In a recent case before West Cheshire Magistrates, a man was ordered to pay more than £500 after he was found guilty of the offence of walking across the barrow crossing at Chester Station on July  last year. When challenged by British Transport Police officers, he claimed he was unaware crossing was prohibited, and he had not seen warning signs in and around the station.

He told police at the time of the offence that he accepted he had crossed the railway line, but not to trespass, but because he was in a hurry after a problem with his ticket, and told the trial he had asked police officers if he could show them the 'stop, look and listen' signs which he had understood to mean he was able to cross the line but he said officers had refused.

Questioning the policeman who dealt with the incident, the man who chose to represent himself , said: 'How does a member of the public define trespassing? The signs say do not trespass on the railway, it does not define what trespassing is.'

The result of this cleverness was a fine of £100 and plus £400 costs and a £15 'victim surcharge.'

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